Sunday, 29 September 2013

Spell it out

After my brief dalliance with machine embroidery following TWAS (the war against spiders) the other day, I was itching to get back into it. My stitchy friend (the one who lent me the first vintage pattern I tried out) has a lovely little girl who turned one today.  We were invited along to her 1st birthday party this afternoon, and my original plan was to take a book as a gift.  But facing the prospect of a Saturday night alone in front of Strictly (god I am so rock and roll), I decided to give Brucey and Hollie a miss in favour of some quality time with my sewing machine.

I am positive that in the not too distant future we're all going to be sick and tired of bunting; there really is an overwhelming amount of it adorning houses, tearooms, and gardens up and down the country.  But I have far from fallen out of love with it - it may be kitsch but it is rather lovely.  I've made a few sets in the past, for a friend's wedding and for new babies, appliqueing the letters onto funky fabrics.
Nautical bunting for Henry
This time I was keen to try a different approach, keeping the fabric simple and having a go with some freehand machine embroidery to decorate the flags with an alphabet theme.  Here are the results...
Z is for Zebra
E is for Elephant
T is for Tree
H is for House
I really struggled to think of another E to sew, the contenders were Egg (too oval and likely to reveal my unsteady hands), Egret (too obscure, although I do love these birds), Elf (too complicated), Envelope (too boring).  In the end I opted for an Eel.  I'm not sure how much it really resembles an eel; hopefully this little girl won't grow up thinking E is for snake!
E is for Eel
The final flag is actually the first one I sewed and probably the one I am least pleased with.  But as it was nearly midnight by the time I finished last night I really didn't fancy staying up later to stitch it again...
A is for Apple
Boxed up and ready to go...

Happy Birthday Zethea!
Kate x

Friday, 27 September 2013

A spider aside

Last night, as I tidied away my sewing, my peace was violated by a ginagaspider.  A veritable beast staring malevolently up at me from the carpet.  I hate spiders. It's a hatred born of irrational, uncontrollable fear.  Little ones I can handle, but big, scuttling, hairy arachnids with thick bodies, brrrrrrr, the very thought makes me shiver.  And this was no incey wincey fellow...
No indeed, just look at that vile creature.  With PLH away, I was forced to take action, and bravely placed a glass (pint - it was huge!) over the offender.  Which I courageously left until this morning...  A quick poke of the glass showed the spider to be still of this world (and rather angry I thought), so I called on my next door neighbour, the lovely Mrs Hatty Boots for a little moral support in helping me become spider free again.

Now, since the arrival of the boy I am acutely aware that I should avoid transferring my arachnophobia on to him, after all I need another fear-free spider warrior to help me out.  So, with Mrs Hatty Boots standing by, I took a gulp, zipped up my man suit and disposed of the spider myself, employing the cardboard and glass method.
I've kept the cardboard; this is going to be my tool of choice on which I will record my war against the increasingly trespassing local spider population.  To get over this irrational fear I need to alter my perception of arachnids.  Rather than viewing them as evil creatures out to get me I need to see them as friendly little things.  So, whilst sewing this evening I popped the darning foot onto the machine for a quick spot of free-hand embroidery onto a scrap of fabric I'd been sewing with.  The result is a pretty friendly looking chap, who has been turned into a thank-you card for me lovely neighbour!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Chop chop

It's been a little while since I had any quality sewing time.  PLH has been around in the evenings for the last week or so and before that I spent some time with my folks back in Dorset.  All that combined with the boy's recent lack of nap consistency (or naps in his cot at all for that matter) have left little time for stitchery.

So it was with relish tonight after settling the boy, that I tuned in to Radio 4, poured a glass of wine and got steamy with the iron to press some of my latest fabric finds.  With a couple of new babies to make presents for (my friends really do seem to be the baby boomers at the moment), and keen to use this pattern to make some more dungarees for the boy I decided to have an evening of pattern cutting.
Little car fabric for new baby boy dungarees.  These will be using the same pattern as the elephant rompers I made for the boy (thanks Alison - you will get your pattern back soon I promise!).  They live in the rather sunny climes of Oman so hopefully they'll keep him nice and cool.

Next up some fabric cut for the boy's next pair.  This time trains in blue, lined with some mini dots.

Getting rather carried away with these dungarees I think - pattern pieces cut in blue cord with a lovely starry blue lining.
And finally pretty pink stripes and elephants for a new baby girl....
Now I just need to find time to sew all these little numbers!

Kate x

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Vintage pattern addict

My latest forays into the world of sewing baby clothes have sparked an addiction that I fear may be hard to shift…  Whenever I have some spare time I find myself browsing on eBay for vintage baby and toddler sewing patterns.  A little innocent browsing has translated into rather a few patterns, all for rompers or dungarees.  I’m beginning to wonder if the boy needs quite so many of said items, but they are all subtly different and for different sizes.  And really, do baby boys ever look quite as sweet as in a cute set of dungarees? 

There doesn’t seem to be many patterns available for boys, certainly not from UK sellers.  But I have bought a couple (or rather a few!) from sellers in Australia and the USA.

I have mentioned before how I like the illustrations on these vintage patterns, although this one may be an exception – these little ones look rather malevolent…

Another downside to this pattern is that although uncut, it does not include seam allowances and directs that these should be added to the fabric when cutting.  To be honest that sounds rather a level of faff too high for my embryonic pattern-cutting skills.  Maybe after some more practice.

The illustrations on this one are of sunnier looking children – I really like the short version of the rompers; hopefully the pattern will fit the boy next summer…

A few of the patterns are uncut and are in a succession of sizes.  I’m trying to work out how I can use the pattern for all the sizes as he grows.  The obvious disadvantage being that you need to use the smallest first rather than keep cutting the pattern down.  I need to give this a little more thought and get the tracing paper out I think.

One thing I’m not too sure about is the sizing on the toddler patterns.  They seem to be in size 1, size 2, size 3 etc – I’m guessing that this corresponds with the child’s age.  Oh, I have so much to learn!  This size 4 pattern that I’m particularly excited about and is my favourite of all the illustrations…

I certainly should have enough to keep me and my sewing machine occupied for the time being.  Now I just need to break the eBay habit.  Although I would love to find a decent pattern for little boy trousers….

Kate x

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pinspired - chevron love

Of late I have become more than a little obsessed with chevrons.  Here are some of the fabulous chevrons I have found on Pinterest...

Stairway to chevron heaven...

Revamped set of drawers

Chevrons and birds - two of my obsessions

Great idea for a revamp of a tired dresser
I love the way the yellow dresser pops out against the chevron walls
What a stylish and enticing exterior - imagine quaffing G&Ts here of an evening!
Chevrons and bunting
I have recently bought an old school (was in a school, not "old-school", if you know what I mean) wooden locker off eBay which is in need of a revamp - it would look great with chevrons on the doors in bright colours.  Hopefully more on that in a later post (may be much later when I find baby-free time to do some sanding and painting).

Pinterest is brilliant for getting ideas and inspiration - it is also a dangerous way to use up a lot of time I find!!  I'm at

Kate x

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Boxing clever...

Recently I stitched a few bibs for a couple of girly new arrivals.  As well as the bibs I made a blanket for one of them, using one of my favourite birdy fabrics.
Backed with super-soft minky fleece, I hope it will be lovely and cosy throughout the winter months (they live in Norway so it will need to be!).
I try to give presents some presence - pretty presentation can make otherwise ordinary contents sing, so I tend to hoard all kinds of packaging to reuse when giving gifts.  Boxes, bits of ribbon, paper - I stash them all!  I have a vast supply of outdated sea charts from my time on the ocean waves which make great wrapping paper. 

For these latest pressies I dug out an old box that contained a gift for the boy when he was born (a very cute "layette" of babygrow, socks and more).  A few strategically stuck bits of paper to cover the labels and make it more girly and ta-da....

Some contents and care labels on the back...
I just hope the contents live up to the packaging!
And here are the other bibs packaged up and ready for their recipient...

Kate x

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I dream in stripes

I have a bit of a thing for stripes – especially on furniture.  Several years ago I inherited an old director’s chair that belonged to my great-grandparents.  It was whilst I was a student and I was so happy to have such a lovely, deep comfy chair that fitted in the tiny room I occupied in the house I shared with 7 other girlies.  Over the summer between moving from halls into said shared house I lovingly sanded, varnished and re-seated the chair.  But my student budget couldn’t stretch to pretty stripes.  Some years later I changed the fabric…

The boy and I have spent many of these halcyon days of summer playing in the garden on this stripy blanket that I picked up in Mexico a few years ago…

My love of stripes extends to our sling – a beautiful striped Hoppediz wrap in shades of a summer sea...


Throughout the summer I’ve been dreaming of lounging on a deckchair in the sun, gin and tonic in hand.  But looking after the boy, keeping him in the shade, keeping alcohol intake to a minimum as I’m still breastfeeding, oh, and the lack of deckchair has kept this firmly in dreamland.  But I took a step closer when I found this beauty on eBay the other day for the princely sum of £10.50. 

I was thinking of re-covering it as there are a few signs of wear on the seat but I am really rather taken by those yummy green, lemon and raspberry stripes.

Then, when browsing for some stripy and strong fabric for a couple of projects I have in mind, I stumbled upon this AMAZING website – Deckchair Stripes!  Canvas, oilcloth, interior fabrics, deckchairs, directors chairs, windbreaks, bunting, cushions, hammocks, trimmings and myriad other stripy accessories - this really is stripe heaven.  Here’s a sample of their covetable wares...
Stripy fabric joy
Oh this looks like bliss - PLH take note!
Pretty windbreak
I think this love affair with all things stripy is set to last.

Kate x

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Latest threads - vintage rompers

Following my first steps in making baby clothes I have become a bit obsessed by the idea of stitching outfits for the boy.  To be honest I’m not overly keen on so many of the baby clothes around for boys and I’m definitely not a fan of dressing babies like mini adults.  A quick search on eBay turned up a few vintage patterns suitable for baby boys and I selected another romper pattern; this one looks like it’s from the 70s.  I love the illustrations on these old patterns – not sure I’ll be letting the boy eat a jammy dodger any time soon though!

PLH thinks I dress the boy in nothing but blue (it does suit him though), so to prove him wrong I selected a non-blue fabric from my recent purchases.  Colourful little trains.

This time the popper tape was somewhat easier to sew in – I think the instructions on this pattern were clearer.

I am really pleased with them – the boy seems to find them comfortable and we’ve had quite a few compliments!  They are a little large and we need to roll up the hems a touch so hopefully they will last him a couple of months.

More buttons from granny's collection.
My only disappointment is the fact I didn’t match up the pattern exactly on the front seam, although to be honest this may be a level of skill my dressmaking is not quite equal to yet!

This pattern will certainly be getting another outing in a different fabric - perhaps in that bright blue cord.

Kate x